Chesil Beach & the Fleet, Dorset

Chesil Beach & the Fleet, Dorset
Chesil Beach & the Fleet, Dorset

Monday, 14 May 2012



Coming from the south, visitors can see how the medieval town of Axbridge hugs the southern slope of the Mendips. Approaching from the north, the Levels spread out below the town. An important wool-producer in the Middle Ages, the town has always been at the crossroads, the centre of things, indeed it was a river port in earlier times.

Now most traffic bypasses this sleepy little town, it's a lovely spot to relax and explore, with a charming brick-paved central square, and some interesting old buildings.

This is King John's Hunting Lodge, now the town museum, situated right in the square.

And this is the church, set just off the other end of the square, and accessed via a stone stairway


Burnham stands on the north coast of Somerset, on the Bristol Channel, and is renowned for its' wide, 6 mile long expanse of beach. At the far end, you can just see the curious white wooden lighthouse, which you can walk out to in about 15 minutes.


Now, I haven't included any pictures of the famous Cheddar Gorge, as I covered that in my other Somerset post, but I thought it would be nice to show a little of the village of Cheddar, much loved by tourists, and renowned of course, for cheese!

There's a lovely river runs the entire length of the village, with charming gardens and little ponds and weirs.

Now don't get confused, but Cleeve Abbey isn't in Cleeve, it's in Washford. It's another of the Cistercian Abbeys that King Henry VIII had destroyed, but Cleeve is a little unusual, in that, whilst the church was razed to the ground, the rest of the monastic buildings were left intact for the use of the local Lord.
The cloister buildings including the gatehouse, 15th century refectory with its glorious angel roof and 13th century heraldic tiles have survived remarkably intact.
The gatehouse

the angel roof

Unusually, there's a rose window in the sacristy, instead of high up on the end nave wall

the cloisters


The Clifton Suspension Bridge, spanning the picturesque Avon Gorge, is the symbol of the city of Bristol. For almost 150 years this Grade I listed structure has attracted visitors from all over the world. Its story began in 1754 with the dream of a Bristol wine merchant who left a legacy to build a bridge over the Gorge.

24 year old Isambard Kingdom Brunel was eventually declared the winner and appointed project engineer – his first major commission.

The entrance to the bridge. There's a toll of 50p per vehicle to use the bridge, which takes you across the Avon Gorge and right into the heart of Bristol's docklands

the view from the bridge down the gorge


The medieval village of Dunster is in Somerset within the Exmoor National Park. With it's Castle, Yarn Market, Tithe Barn and a wealth of listed buildings, Dunster is a favourite destination for many tourists.

This is the Yarn Market, right at the heart of the village

The Castle sits right at the end of the main street in the village, but is actually accessed by its' own entrance off the main road outside the village. The Castle and grounds are open to the public.


Lynmouth is the port for the town of Lynton above the harbour, and the two are connected by a water driven lift.
This is the Rhennish Tower, the lighthouse at the mouth of the harbour.

The harbour has been formed by dividing the mouth of the river, where it flows into the sea.


Malmsmead is not a name known by many outside of the local population, but if you have read R.D. Blackmore's book, Lorna Doone, then you will recognise it as the mouth of Doone Valley. The tiny group of buildings is accessed via a small packhorse bridge, or more usually, via a ford through the fast-flowing river. It's not an easy place to get to, being well-hidden down a tiny, very steep lane from the small hamlet of Oare, itself well off the main road.


I must say, Minehead is not one of my favourite places. The seafront is somewhat shabby and run down, and dominated by the huge Butlin's Holiday Camp at one end of the seafront.
However, what it does have, is the terminus for the wonderful West Somerset Heritage Railway.
This is the longest heritage steam and diesel railway in the country, at a little over 20 miles long. It winds its' way through beautiful countryside, stopping at several little villages, until it reached Bishops Lydeard.
It's well worth taking a trip and just relaxing and admiring the views.

Steam engine 'Norton Manor'

The locomotive turntable at Minehead

The town of Porlock lies at the foot of Porlock Hill, too steep for cars towing caravans and huge lorries. If you turn off in the middle of the town and head for the sea, you reach its port of Porlock Weir. Tiny, picturesque, and well worth a visit for a cream tea!


The village of Washford, some 6 miles outside of Minehead, is absolutely nothing to write home about. However, if you take Abbey Road, towards Cleeve Abbey, you find the White Horse Inn, a traditional 17th. century coaching inn. This is where I stayed, and a very delightful stay it was too. The Inn, which has very comfortable rooms, and which serves good food, lies on the bank of the Washford river.

Nother of those delightful little ports that the North Somerset coast seems to abound with, Watchet has a very pleasant walk along the harbour wall, with a wide promenade, and plenty of seats where you can soak up the late evening sun.

'Yankee Jack'

The Ancient Mariner - it is rumoured that Watchet is the place where Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote his epic 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner'

The gunboat 'Gay Archer'

How different to Minehead! Weston is clean, bright, well cared for, with attractive gardens along the seafront, and an impressive pier. It also has one of the best motorcycle parks I've ever come across!